PrivacyWiki:Guiding Principles

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This page's purpose is to articulate wiki's guiding principles. These principles are:

1. Focus on practical advice for everyday users.
2. Do not let perfect privacy be the enemy of better privacy.
3. Do not reinvent the wheel.
4. FOSS over proprietary.

Read on for expanded explanation of each point.

Focus on practical advice for everyday user.[edit | edit source]

Purpose of this wiki is to help individuals make better privacy decisions. We want to give our readers tools and knowledge to make better privacy choices. To that end we want to be succinct and concise while avoiding fluff content which may not be immediately useful to our reader.
Much can be said about abstract, technical or political concepts adjacent to personal privacy, but mainspace of this wiki is not the place to do that.

This does not mean that we do not want thoughtful content of more abstract or verbose nature, but such content belongs to one of the other namespaces, and should not generally be the first page that the reader lands on. It also does not mean that this wiki is apolitical or necessarily as dry as Wikipedia. It is okay to have a pro-privacy political opinion, and to express it in an appropriate manner. It is also okay to use more lively and engaging language than Wikipedia would allow. But, neither one of those should come at expense of the usefulness and conciseness of the content in the article namespace.

Do not let perfect privacy be the enemy of better privacy.[edit | edit source]

There is a tendency in the privacy enthusiast community to assume that unless the user is committed to privacy at any cost, regardless of usability or convenience impacts, they're wasting their time. There is often an inherent assumption that everyone has both the technical knowledge and threat model of Edward Snowden. We must guard against this assumption.

Some users are unable or unwilling to abandon a technology or a service which do not respect their privacy, and we must strive to offer helpful advice which respects their level of willingness to engage with the topic of personal privacy. We should champion useful advice given the constraints of what the user is willing and able to do, and not shame individuals for refusing to abandon less than ideal devices or services. We want to lead them to the solution, and never take an attitude of 'do this or we can't help you'. If all they are willing is small and incremental improvements, that's fine. Any privacy improvement is better than nothing.

Do not reinvent the wheel.[edit | edit source]

Much of the content of this wiki is related to complex and technical concepts which may need to be explained to our target audience. While an inline explanation is often appropriate, let's avoid the temptation to rewrite Wikipedia.
Our focus is on privacy in an online world, not technology on it's own, thus when general non-privacy focused explanations are necessary, feel free to link off wiki, usually to other resources in similar spirit such as Wikipedia.

Additionally, there a wealth of privacy focused content already out there. Don't be shy when it comes to linking to it.

FOSS[1] over proprietary.[edit | edit source]

We will often find ourselves in a situation where we need to recommend a product or a service. In those cases, we should always recommend community focused or non-profit FOSS options where those are of comparable quality with proprietary options. Of course, sometimes FOSS options do not exist or are significantly inferior, and in those cases we will put the user first and recommend a proprietary option. But the general sentiment should be 'if in doubt, go for FOSS'.

Footnotes[edit source]

  1. for avoidance of doubt, FOSS is software meeting Free Software Foundation's 'The Free Software Definition', as written by RMS